Every spring, after two days of steady rain, 200 ants show up like clockwork and march across the kitchen counter in formation. How do they do it? How do they amass a large group on such short notice? E-mail? Cell phones?
How is it you can be on the patio waiting for the steaks to come off the grill and there is not a single insect in sight, but once the meat is served, a plague-proportion swarm of gnats materializes. They buzz the corn, hover over the meat, circle your head and try to work their way up your nose.
How do they all know the exact time and place to converge? GPS? Text messaging?
I marvel at these insects that appear out of nowhere in large groups and wonder if maybe the key is traveling light.
The husband and I take turns guessing how many trips we'll have to make back into the house before we can actually back out of the drive. On a good day we have it down two. On a bad day it can be as many as five trips back in with both cars doors open at the same time, someone going in through the garage and the other one going in through the front door.
Another point for insects is that they are reliable. You can never count on the weather for a picnic, but you can always count on the flies. They're like those second cousins at a family reunion they never RSVP or bring a side dish, but they always show.
My philosophy about insects has developed over the years and it has come to this: They are a lot smarter than we think, so we should get them before they get us.
It may sound cruel, but it's a bug-on-the-windshield world out there. Until the insects get an insects rights group with billboards and testimonials with a celebrity-of-the-week nuzzling a horse fly, purring about how adorable it is and how it helped her through a bad time with the paparazzi and that public drunkenness incident, I say it's open season.
I haven't always been this bold and pro-active. There was a time when I may have been like you a sniveling, bug-fearing ninny, hyperventilating at the sight of a silverfish, scrambling for a chair when I saw a spider, and screaming at an earwig. But not now.
This year when the ants again invaded the kitchen, I resolved to become like the people I had long admired the ones who ball up their fists, pound insects, catch flies mid-air and flatten ants with an open palm. I was finished running and screaming, I would confront them head on. Or hand on.
Last week I flattened two spiders with my hand. It was a personal triumph that no one believes because I was home alone.
Yesterday, something skittered across the floor and I smashed it with my bare foot. It was a victorious moment to share but everyone was outside in the backyard.
I find it odd that the critters only appear when no one else is around to witness my newfound bravery.
Perhaps the insects are trying to tell me something: Bug off.